The Aloha Chapter’s December 1 Quarterly luncheon at the Oahu Country Club featured Dr. Richard Vuylsteke, CEO of the East West Center, as its speaker. The EWC is an NGO with a mission of promoting better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the US, Asia and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, dialogue and public diplomacy. Having come from 30-years of Asia-based service, most recently as president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Dr. Vuylsteke has been at the EWC helm for just 11 months now.
He was challenged to summarize the Center’s functions in one word, and his response was: Peacefare. In counterpart to US military interests, which focus on immediate crises and risks facing the nation from abroad, Dr. Vuylsteke sees the EWC as providing the longer-term analysis and anticipation of factors that will affect culture, economics, security and societies throughout Asia and the Pacific. Examples include sea level rise in the Western Pacific; the aging of rice farmers in Japan, Thailand, and Laos; the damming of the Mekong River and it’s impact on climate and environment in Cambodia.
There was also a conversation about smart cities movement and how a number of Asian cities are revolutionizing myriad aspects of daily life including grocery shopping, processing of government documents, management of infrastructure and security.
The event was attended by about 40 members.